What is it?  Succession planning is about identifying and developing trustees or directors to take up future leadership roles i.e. Audit & Risk Chair or Board Chair.

When should it be carried out?  Succession planning should be an ongoing activity for the board.  However, the actual timing of this activity is often driven factors such as retirement/rotation policies, or a strategic review.

Who does it?  Everyone on the board should have a role in identifying succession issues. It is common however, that the Chair of the Board leads the succession planning process as they have an overview of the board’s strengths and weaknesses and any skill gaps within the group.

Why do it?  To ensure that there is no loss of organisational effectiveness or growth during transitions between board members.  It is important to develop board members and invest in their development, just as it is for the staff of your organisation.

Key steps for succession planning;

  1. Identify what roles are needing/likely to be replaced (end of term/retirement etc)
  2. Define the characteristics and skills sought for the role, taking into account the organisations stage in the business cycle
  3. Assess existing directors or trustees against those characteristics and skills. If necessary, consider recruiting from outside the existing board and its networks to ensure that any skills gaps can be addressed.
  4. Develop existing/ new board members to be ready to take on new roles. You can do this by providing mentoring, attending training courses and providing opportunities to undertake practical tasks to boost experience.

What you can expect as an outcome?  A stronger, more unified and focussed board that knows its strengths and weaknesses and has a plan in place to resolve identified skill and experience gaps.


Does your board have a succession plan?  If not, call one of the team at Directors Inc. to start the conversation now!


Aaron Rink